Woman’s world

Rodrigo Garcia has made a career telling stories from a female perspective, a style he turns on its head in ‘Albert Nobbs’

Womans-World

THE BUTLER DID IT Rodrigo Garcia, above right, directs Glenn Close, left in the gender-bending drama ‘Albert Nobbs.’

It’s not even 7 a.m. in California, but Rodrigo Garcia has already been awake for hours. He’s been in production on a series he’s shooting for the web about female characters.

It is nothing new for Garcia to be telling stories about women, although the format — webisodes — may seem a bit out of place for someone best know for writing and directing feature films and premium cable series. But it doesn’t bother Garcia — he lets his interests lead his career, not vice versa.

“What’s still driving my interest is the content — issues of identity, family dynamics … those kinds of things,” he says. “The studios are making less of those now, and more tentpole and high concept movies for young people. So why not the Internet? The platforms are still being explored. The draw is where can you tell stories that interest you.”

And the stories that have interested Garcia have often been those related to women, and frequently gay characters, as in his new film Albert Nobbs.

This is not unique in Hollywood, although it does put him in some rarefied company.

“There is a long line of male directors interested in female characters, from Bergman to Truffaut and Antonioni, all of whom had female characters at the center. Also Cukor and Minnelli in Hollywood. It’s not uncommon for guys to just go there.”

Garcia’s career arc has been rangy but compelling. He received an Emmy nomination for directing the pilot of Big Love, the HBO series about modern-day polygamists — another topic rife with women’s issues. He helmed several episodes of Six Feet Under, which famously had several gay characters, and was even invited by his friend Ilene Chaiken to direct The L Word, though he was never able to schedule it. (“I liked that show, obviously I felt comfortable with the subject matter,” he says.) His feature Nine Lives told interconnected stories of women, many about gay life.

But it started for Garcia with his first film, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her, a portmanteau of shorts about women. It wasn’t his initial intent, though, to tell only women’s stories.

“When I was writing that movie, I wrote the women first. They were so complex, I just kept going. Ultimately, I don’t feel the movies are about women or female problems but things that interest me. But the subject matter could be male also, like the ties that bind us.”

Garcia walks the razor’s edge between male and female with his latest film, Albert Nobbs, which begins a staggered release this week (it opens in Dallas in late January). In it, Glenn Close plays Albert, a servant in an Irish hotel who for 30 years has been a gentleman’s gentleman.

Only Albert was born a woman, and has chosen to live her life as a trans man in an era where there simply was no definition of that. When Albert meets another woman living on the down-low, and begins to explore his feelings for a young chambermaid, his life is turned upside-down. The set-up means Garcia addresses issues of male-female identity with rare depth.

“The themes and conflicts were very strong. Albert is beyond from being ‘inside a closet’ — she has erased herself and supplanted it with her butler, now in her 50s.

I’ve started to recognize [the theme in my work] where you can’t live with someone and you can’t live without them. In the movie, the young girl that was Albert — I don’t even know what the young girl was called — and [the adult] Albert is that relationship.”

It was a reunion of sorts with Close, who worked with Garcia on both Things You Can Tell and Nine Lives. Close also produced and co-wrote the screenplay to Albert Nobbs.

As unusual as the plot may seem, Garcia says there are “many, many instances” of women hiding out as men to make their livings, working as butlers, or even as coal miners. Making the audience believe this could happen, though, is another matter.

“It’s happened many times where you’re in a public place and you see someone and you think, ‘Is that a man or a woman?’ But you would never consider asking them, ‘Are you something else?’ As long as you believe those around her couldn’t see it, you believe it. It’s extremely hard to pull off, but it didn’t worry me with Glenn.”

Garcia insists Close wore very little makeup to achieve the effect. “You don’t want the audience to feel like they didn’t even try so the nose is sort of a masculine version of the nose that sits on Glenn’s face and the ears are a little bigger — that’s it,” he says.

“The movie is about closets and what you have to repress to fit in, but it was not about a gay character because she’s not gay or straight — she’s erased that, too. It’s so sad she has to hide who she is.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Kindred Spirits presents: The Judy Garland Christmas Show

Judy Garland Christmas ShowThere’s kitsch. There’s camp. Then there’s the Judy Garland Christmas Show, perhaps the single most absurdly divine thing to ever be produced by the 1960′s television industry. Kindred Spirits presents its 4th Annual Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along December 4th at Meteor (2306 Genesee St) at 5 pm.

In 1963 Garland found herself in trouble with the IRS for forgetting to pay taxes for a couple of years. Desperate for cash, she agreed to star in a weekly variety show for CBS, then proceeded to record 26 of the most gin-soaked hours in television history. Garland was remarkably cogent for the Christmas episode however, perhaps because her children were all on set as guest stars. Lorna Luft, Joey Luft and (almost unrecognizable with long hair) Liza Minnelli join fellow guests Jack Jones, Tracy Everitt, Mel Tormé and the true stars of the show, the chorus line of dancing Santas, for an hour of surreal delight.

With Nancy Ford emceeing, the Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along has become a Houston holiday tradition. In addition to the show and complimentary eats there’s also a raffle for a flat screen television. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and can be purchased at kindredspiritshouston.org. Proceeds benefit AssistHers, the Lesbian Health Initiative Houston, and Expert Nutrition.

After the break watch the opening number from the Judy Garland Christmas Show.

—  admin

Liza Minnelli: ‘Balls to You!’

Ballstoyou

Ten things Liza with a Z said in her TCM show Private Screenings late last year. Also, the full Private Screenings show, AFTER THE JUMP


Here's the whole interview:








Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Why Won’t Liza Minnelli Perform a Duet With Randy Rainbow?

Having calmed down after being passed over for a daytime talk show gig, Randy Rainbow won't let anything get in the way of his showbiz career. But after (trying to) enlist the help of a few Broadway legends like Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters for his Laurie Beechman Theatre benefit performance, Randy finds the Great White Way turning its back on his legendary vocals.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  admin

FALL 2010 MUSIC PREVIEW: Mark Ronson, Robbie Williams, Liza Minnelli, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Vincent Minor, Antony & The Johnsons, OMD, Yaz, George Michael, Hurts; plus eight free mp3s

Markronson_lead

 
6a00d8341c730253ef0134864b9b2f970c-piMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a daily email that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.

Road SPECIAL EDITION: FALL 2010 MUSIC PREVIEW

Unlike the business-as-usual that happens right after Labor Day — back to school, back to work — this fall is full of welcome returns, from old-school influences like Yaz and OMD to that crazy Cee-Lo Green and Liza with a Z. Plenty of fresh upstarts have us excited as well. For the full audio/visual experience, we have twelve new tracks for you to stream or download just below. Here's to a season of kick-ass music!



Towleroad – Fall 2010 Music Preview by moderntonic.com Road

IT'S RAINING MEN:

Markronsoncover Mark Ronson & the Business Intl — Record Collection
(September 28): The man who brought Amy Winehouse to the masses returns with Record Collection, an album that curbs his retro soul proclivities for a trek through the ‘80s and ‘90s on 14 original songs. The busy DJ-producer (pictured above) gets help from Boy George (vocals on "Somebody to Love Me"), D’Angelo ("Glass Mountain Trust"), the London Gay Men’s Chorus ("Introducing the Business") and debuts his own vocal chops for the first time, singing on two songs, including the title track (backed by Nick Rhodes on keyboards and Simon Le Bon!).

Photo_BrandonFl_300RGB-1 Brandon Flowers — Flamingo (September 14): The Killers’ flamboyant frontman drops his first solo release, Flamingo. He’s still in thrall to the cinematic sweep of Bruce Springsteen on the single "Crossfire," with a sprinkling of New Wave influence, as on "Only the Young." Still, it’s more Sam’s Town than Hot Fuss, with songs about his biggest inspirations, namely, his Mormon faith ("Playing with Fire") and his hometown of Las Vegas ("Hard Enough," a duet with Jenny Lewis).
 
Cee-Lo Green — The Lady Killer (December 7): For anyone predetermined to dislike The Lady Killer — the Gnarls Barkley singer’s first solo album in six years —  Cee-Lo Green has two words to say:  "F**k You." That song’s received about five million hits so far on YouTube. (A clean version, "Forget You," went to radio.) It’s the peppiest kiss-off we’ve heard in ages and could become as ubiquitous as Gnarls Barkley’s unstoppable "Crazy." He’s got our attention and now we can’t wait to find out if the rest of the album’s as much nasty fun.

RW-hits-520x520 Robbie Williams — In and Out of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010 (October 12): Right, he’s still not a star here and the Brokeback Mountain video for his latest single "Shame," featuring his old Take That mate Gary Barlow, isn’t going to change his fortunes. But it’s a gorgeously earthy mid-tempo ballad that fits alongside what’s now an impressive collection of songs from over 20 years. On two discs, the neophyte can hear such gems as "Rock DJ," the Pet Shops Boys-assisted "No Regrets" and, of course, "Angels" (so popular in the U.K. it’s practically a national anthem). For Robbie fanatics, two other configurations, available as imports, include a third CD of B-sides and rarities (Deluxe Edition) and three DVDs of live performances and videos (Ultimate Edition).

Also: Chromeo — Business Casual (September 14); Maroon 5 — Hands All Over (September 21); Seal — 6: Commitment (September 28); Neil Young — Le Noise (September 28); Tricky — Mixed Race (October 5); Ursula 1000 — Fuzz EP (October 5 digital/October 19 physical); Simian Mobile Disco — Is Fixed (October 12); Styrofoam — Disco Synthesizers & Daily Tranquilizers (October 12); Elton John/Leon Russell — The Union (October 19); William Orbit — Pieces in a Modern Style 2 (October 26); Bryan Ferry — Olympia (October 26); Jamiroquai — Rock Dust Light Star (November TBA); Lee Dewyze — title TBD (November 16)

RoadSingle Ladies (Put a Ring On It):

Liza CD cover - photo credit Ruven Afanador Liza Minnelli — Confessions (September 28): The 14 tracks of Liza’s twelfth studio album are a piano bar lover’s wet dream. Accompanied by her long-time pianist Billy Stritch, Liza — yes, we’re on a first name basis — offers straight up, elegant takes on some songbook classics ("At Last," "All the Way") with a few esoteric choices. Our favorite? It’s a toss-up between the Billie Holiday chestnut "I Must Have That Man" and Sonny Burke’s "He’s a Tramp." Meet us downtown at the Duplex and we’ll decide it in a sing-off.

Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas II You (November 2): While the blogosphere has been focused on Mariah Carey's yet-to-be-confirmed pregnancy, Mimi herself has been hard at work on yet another holiday record. This time, rumor has it, she's written and recorded two songs with Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman, "Christmas Time Is in the Air Again" and "One Child." Perhaps it's redundant that Our Lady of the Octaves is going all Christmas on us again, but since her 1994 release Merry Christmas was a contemporary holiday classic, we're all ears.

Photo_NickiMina_300RGB Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday (November 23): The Trinidad-born American rapper/collaboration queen will release her long-awaited debut in time for Thanksgiving. It looks to be a cornucopia of fresh rhymes and beats, with some smart sample choices; single "Your Love" — which features a vocal sample of Annie Lennox’s "No More 'I Love You's'" — is a salty slow burn, the grime-y "Massive Attack," with rapper/producer Sean Garrett is bottom-heavy hip-hop reggae. She’s also released some fantastic one-offs: her turn with will.i.am on "Check It Out" quotes The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" on its way to AutoTune’d glory, she added spice to Mariah Carey’s "Up Out My Face" and her "mixtapes" are genius (be sure to seek out the super-filthy "Ice Cream Man"). This is one artist to watch.

Also: Olivia Newton-John — Grace and Gratitude Renewed (September 14); Michelle Branch — Everything Comes and Goes (September 14); Zayra — Baby Likes to Bang EP (September 14); Paula Cole — Ithaca (September 21); Jane Monheit — Home (September 21); Shontelle — No Gravity (September 21); Nellie McKay — Home Sweet Mobile Home (September 28); KT Tunstall — Tiger Suit (October 5); Ciara — Basic Instinct (October 5); Shelby Lynne — Merry Christmas (October 12); Juliette Commagere — The Procession (October 26); Rihanna — Loud (November 16); Keri Hilson — No Boys Allowed (November TBA); Norah Jones — …Featuring (November 2); Annie Lennox — A Christmas Cornucopia (November 22)

RoadJohnny, Are You Queer?

Vincentminor3 Vincent Minor — Vincent Minor (September 21): Has Rufus Wainwright made the world safe for opulent gay singer-songwriters? We think so. L.A.-based Michael Mangia — who records as Vincent Minor — is a maverick in much the manner of Wainwright, able to compress a century of compositional genres at will. The result? A stunning debut as at home with a momentous music-hall whimsy ("Late Night Show") as it is with twisted psychedelic balladry (the Harry Nilsson-meets-George Gershwin of "So F**ked Up"). His is a fresh, innovative voice, and anything but minor.
 
Antony and the Johnsons — Swanlights (October 12): It’s nearly impossible to describe the otherworldly contours of Antony Hegarty’s astonishing voice. Whether he’s elegizing the destruction of the planet (as he did on last year’s The Crying Light) or plumbing new depths in a cover of Beyoncé’s "Crazy in Love," his vibrato-drenched phrasing is a sucker-punch to the gut. What new surprises and depths of feeling are in store for us with Swanlights? If recent R&B-tinged song "Thank You for Your Love" is any indication, we can expect simpler arrangements but the same expressive directness, plus cameo-weirdness from Bjőrk on duet "Flétta."

Diamond Rings Face Close Up Diamond Rings — Special Affections (October 26): John O’Regan — the gangly Canadian with an affinity for Bowie-esque eye shadow who records as Diamond Rings — traffics in a hyper-melodic strain of New Wave revisionism on his debut Special Affections. He meshes the icy grandeur of OMD with the romantic swoon of the Magnetic Fields on "On Our Own," and sounds like The National in love with New Order on "Wait & See." We miss the house-jumping rhythms of his single "Show Me Your Stuff" — not included here — but there’s plenty to love without it.

Dark Dark Dark — Wild Go (October 5): If Regina Spektor fronted world-music aficionados Beirut, they might sound something like the Minneapolis group Dark Dark Dark. Songwriters Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount’s sophomore album Wild Go is a gorgeous indie hybrid. On the single "Daydreaming," Invie speculates about "all the unspeakable things" with all the intensity of Fiona Apple thrashing half-naked on a floor. And LaCount’s reedy tenor anchors Invies’ haunting countermelody on the eerie waltz "Heavy Heart."

Also: La Cage Aux Folles: New Broadway Cast Recording (September 28)

RoadPop Muzik:

OMD2 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — History of Modern (September 28): Though we love the bands we like to call "retro electro" (La Roux, Kids of 88, etc.), we still enjoy getting our kicks at the source. OMD’s eleventh release, History of Modern, stands tall as a follow-up to their classics Architecture & Morality, Junk Culture and Crush. Opener "New Babies: New Toys" is sleek New Wave goodness. The single "If You Want It" updates the yearning openness of "If You Leave." And — wait — is that Aretha Franklin’s sampled vocals on the robotically funky "Save Me?" Why, yes it is. Damn!

Yaz — Reconnected Live (September 28):  Whether you call them Yazoo or Yaz, the New Wave duo’s 2009 reunion concerts were special, and here’s proof — a double-disc of euphoria featuring the hits "Nobody’s Diary," "Don’t Go" and "Situation" (not about the Jersey Shore himbo). Alison Moyet’s never been in finer voice — that husky soul croon’s like a warm blanket of memories — and knob-twiddler Vince Clarke’s better here than he ever was with Depeche Mode or Erasure.

Faith George Michael — Faith (Special Edition) (October 5): When he isn’t trying to cop a feel from the Beverly Hills police or driving under the influence of Class C narcotics, George Michael — you might remember — is a pop star. If you want to jog your memory, along comes this Special Edition of his bestselling Faith, with two CDs featuring the remastered album, 12-inches and B-sides, and a special edition with a DVD of interviews and music videos.
   
RoadNew Moon On Monday:

PastedGraphic-4 For those always on the lookout for fresh meat (and you know we’re talking to you), this autumn check out Deluka (pictured) and Shit Robot. The U.K.’s Deluka offers stomping retro electro on You Are the Night (September 21 digital; October 12 CD). Front-woman Ellie Innocenti is not so innocent on tracks like the glitchy opener "OMFG" and power popping single "Cascade." DFA artist and DJ Marcus Lambkin — who records as Shit Robot — drops (the brilliantly titled) From the Cradle to the Rave (September 21), nine club-friendly tracks like the Barry White send-up of "I Found Love" and the sweet modern disco of "Losing My Patience," with vocals from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.

Also: Hope — Hope (October TBA)

RoadTODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

Hurts1 Out yesterday in the U.K. (no U.S. release date set yet), Hurts’ much-anticipated debut Happiness is synth-duo drama at its most heightened. The Manchester pair of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson channel Tears for Fears on single "Wonderful Life" and invite Kylie Minogue along for a menacing ride on "Devotion."

California's Sara Bareilles follows up her smash Little Voice and its number one hit "Love Song" with Kaleidoscope Heart, 13 easy-rocking tunes that will wind down your summer and warm your heart.

Robyn_Body-Talk-Pt-2_500x500 Disco pixie Robyn keeps cranking 'em out this year. Body Talk Pt. 2 consists of eight tunes of streamlined dance highlighted by a full-band version of the previously acoustic "Hang With Me" and "U Should Know Better," a raging slab of electroclash with Snoop Dogg.

The gloomy New York quartet Interpol bid farewell to bassist Carlos D on their self-titled fourth, 10 sinuous tracks of dark indie tunes. Mr. D. goes out in style on the bass-heavy "Summer Well" and the prickly single "Barricade."

Also: Jerry Lee Lewis — Mean Old Man; The Thermals — Personal Life; Venetian Snares — My So-Called Life; Ludo — Prepare the Preparations; Brendan James — Brendan James; Helmet — Seeing Eye Dog


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright